“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
We’ve all had to learn how to join in the dance of change this year. Much about our lives has changed: the way we shop for groceries, the way we celebrate birthdays, graduations, and holidays, the way we work, and the way we learn. Rithm School was no exception.
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Before COVID, Rithm prided itself on a classroom based experience. Like a traditional school or college environment, students came to the Rithm bootcamp campus in San Fransisco for daily lectures and practical experience with a cohort and instructor.
Like everyone else, the Rithm staff transitioned to remote operations. Admissions interviews moved entirely online, campus shut down, classes went remote, and job searches transitioned to video interviews. Overall, Rithm feels they have made the necessary adjustments without losing the quality of the Rithm experience.
Here we’ll take a closer look at each stage of the Rithm experience: admissions, classes, and the job search.
Rithm School Admissions During Covid-19
Angelina Davis directs admissions at Rithm. Davis came to Rithm with a background in customer service and marketing before she joined the bootcamp world. She’s been at Rithm for four years and been able to observe the COVID transition firsthand.
The steps of the actual admissions process haven’t changed much at all: you can find them here. After you fill out the online application, step one is to talk with Angelina. In the past, this meeting would be in person and she would be able to give you a tour of the campus. Now, this part of the process is conducted via video chat.
Rithm School Remote Learning
Because of the shift to remote learning, Rithm School is able to accept cohorts of students from all over the country, opposed to students exclusively from the Bay Area. Angelina spends most of her day talking to prospective students, which she loves. When speaking to students, Angelina is primarily focused on “looking for people who are super excited to learn how to code, have a great attitude, and aren’t afraid of hard work.”
But Angelina isn’t the only person who meets with prospective students during the admissions process: “The admissions process is an all-hands on deck experience.” After prospective students meet with Angelina to talk about their experience and ask questions about the program, the technical interview comes up.
Rithm School Technical Interviews
Technical interviews would have been conducted in person via a whiteboard exercise, but now this portion is conducted online. Admissions decisions are based both on the student’s technical performance and on their potential to benefit from the Rithm experience.
While Angelina misses being able to welcome new cohorts of students to Rithm in-person, she still enjoys connecting with the cohorts. Like most of us, cohorts have set up Zoom happy hours to help connect outside of the classroom.
The COVID Classroom Experience
When the pandemic began, the Rithm team was concerned about the transition from in-person learning to virtual learning. Rithm was founded by educators who also worked in tech. Because of their teaching experience, Rithm’s founders felt strongly about the benefits of an in-person bootcamp experience.
The staff worried the Rithm students learning virtually would lose the community previous students cherished and benefited from. Instructor Tim Garcia shared with us, “I was also worried that the cohort wouldn’t have the same community feel over zoom, but I’ve found that we’re still able to bond over online games or hanging out on Fridays.”
Live Lectures and Coding
When it comes to the instruction, Rithm has found the transition relatively easy. Rithm was able to transition their in-house platform to manage their daily lectures and paired coding. Rithm lectures are done live, so students can ask questions in real time and instructors can give individualized attention to their students.
Like many of us, Garcia found he had to adjust his lifestyle now that he was practically glued to the screen: “I’ve had to be more disciplined about spending a little bit of time outside of the house each day and we encourage our students to take screen breaks as well.” Rithm is still a bootcamp and bootcamp hours are notoriously long. Students are typically in lecture or group work from 9am to 6pm, with time for additional study afterward.
Benefits of Virtual Learning
Overall, Garcia feels like Rithm has been able to maintain the most important aspects of the Rithm classroom experience: individualized attention and the community of the classroom. A silver lining of Rithm going virtual for the pandemic has been the expansion of their student pool. Garcia feels that the geographically diverse cohorts enrich the Rithm experience for all.
Both Davis and Garcia agreed the most rewarding moment for them was when their first cohort graduated during the pandemic. This was a group of students that started in-person but transitioned to virtual learning. Garcia wrote, “I was worried about how everything would turn out since we had not done an online course before, but the group was positive and supportive of each other. It ended up going very well.”
The Final Frontier: The Job Search
No one goes to coding bootcamp just for fun; they go to change their career trajectory and get a job. Therefore the job placement component of Rithm School is one of the most crucial pieces of information to track.
Job Market Impact
When COVID hit, students and staff alike were worried about the job market. Even the fast-growing tech industry in the US experienced hiring freezes and layoffs in early/mid 2020. Rithm students and staff faced new challenges when it came to finding jobs in early 2020.
Rithm career coach Zach DeRossette commented, “There were plenty of talented software engineers that had been laid off due to covid competing for jobs that bootcamp students were going for.” Students from the first cohort to graduate in the pandemic struggled and found their job search took longer. But DeRossette was there for them for the whole process. All of those students did find placements, it just took a little longer.
Like many things during the pandemic, the job market has stabilized slightly and Rithm grads are finding the process easier than it was during the beginning of COVID. For DeRossette, not a whole lot has changed about how he works. He still instructs each class on basic search and interview skills, although it’s virtual now. And he continues to meet with students one on one virtually.
You can read a more in-depth look at the Rithm job prep and search process here.
While it might not have felt that way at the time, it seems the Rithm team adjusted to their pandemic normal quickly and effectively. All the staff acknowledged the new challenges and the surprising consistencies. There were even some amazing benefits—like expanding their applicant pool to students across the country.
Another thing that has remained consistent is the joy the Rithm team takes in seeing students meet their goals. Zach DeRossette said, “listening to the excitement of students after they get their first…job is always rewarding. It’s nice to hear students talk about how all the work was worth it now that they have an exciting new career.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Rithm, you can connect with them here.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.